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Brand Loyalty and Domain Names

I just finished reading an interesting post about “building an army of brand loyalists” on the CityMax Blog, posted by¬† Grasshopper’s Ambassador of Buzz, Jonathan Kay. The post got me to thinking about the power of a domain name in building that buzz that Jonathan (and Grasshopper) is famous for (click here to read their coming out party and one if my favourite examples of buzz building).

For those that don’t know Grasshopper, they are the group that sent 5,000 chocolate-covered grasshoppers to key influencers across North America. They are also the ones who still make my hair stand up every time I watch their video about Entrepreneurs Changing the World.

A large part of the value of a generic domain name comes from the emotion or understanding that it conveys to your audience. Over at, people instantly get that which we do: we do golf tee times. But what about Grasshopper? They don’t sell grasshoppers. Yet still, as a generic domain name, it is a very powerful.

I wonder, would Grasshopper have the brand loyalists they do were they still called GotVMail? I mean, they still could listen to their customers, add value, and the rest of the points made by Jonathan, but would they still have as many loyal followers? Personally, I don’t think they would have.

Unfortunately, branding of this sort is one of those things that can’t happen in a vacuum and use normal scientific methodology (two identical companies, each executing the same strategies with the same product lines, and the same principles driving the company). I guess this is one of those philosophical chicken-and-egg type questions. What came first: brand loyalty or the domain recognition?

I think one of the points that Jonathan made is very important and it relates back to what we are doing at Jonathan wrote:

“…The more you know about your customers, the more likely you will be able to set them up with other customers who might be able to help each other out. That is a memorable connection. Here at Grasshopper we have gone as far as to set up a formal program: Tell Us Your Story. This gives our entrepreneurs an opportunity to tell us what makes them unique, and how they are changing the world. Not only do we promote them to the media, but now we also have real stories and examples of entrepreneurs living their passion. Actively trying to help your customers businesses grow is a definite way to create a brand loyalist.”

At, we have been promoting many of our small businesses to media and to other customers (and we will be doing even more so in the coming months). We believe that “every website tells a story” and what makes the story interesting is not the website itself or the website builder technology driving the website, but what the individual entrepreneur was able to accomplish with the tools. One such good example of this was the “Homepreneur of the Year” award that handed out last year to Marco Barberini. Marco’s story is inspiring to other entrepreneurs.

So what do you think? Would Grasshopper have achieved brand loyalty under the name GotVMail?

March 30, 2010 at 4:09 pm 1 comment

Happy New Year! Now back to blogging about marketing, entrepreneurship, domains, and life in general

My how time flies when you are having fun! I can’t believe that this small business blog was starting to go the way of so many abandoned blogs, having not written anything in more than 8 months. So this post is a little bit of a catch all catch up.

I stopped writing those 8 months ago after accepting a position within to bring ideas and passion into the 10 year old company and join on for what was promising to be a most “excellent adventure” (to badly paraphrase Keanu Reeves) — another guy from whom you haven’t heard anything intelligible from in awhile.

Officially, the job title on the business card reads “VP Marketing”, but in reality it might read “Entrepreneur-in-residence-and-the-guy-who-helps-coach-the-marketing-and-sales-teams-about-marketing-sales-pr-domaining-ppc-seo-and-other-hats-as-required”… But that might not have fit on the business card.

I am still involved in other startups of course., my golf tee times and reservations company, is still going and growing well. was sold off. Other ventures are percolating slowly. In fact, it is mandated at CityMax that all employees must also be entrepreneurs.

Painted Picture and Vision for Painted Picture ... It is worth a read.

CityMax, after all, is trying to inspire the dreams of more than one million entrepreneurs through its small business website software (read the CityMax Painted Picture here) … And by being entrepreneurs ourselves, we can better understand and help customers (while seeing Blue Ocean opportunities as they arise).

So why am I back blogging again after such a long hiatus? It is a new year that is full of new possibilities… And I thought it would be such a shame to let all of this pass unrecorded.

To everyone in business, cheers to a prosperous and rewarding decade ahead.


January 14, 2010 at 10:27 am 1 comment